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March 1, 2012

What are Taste Buds?

Taste is the weakest of your five senses, but it’s responsible for the different flavors you experience when you eat. In general, girls have more taste buds than boys. Taste buds are tiny nerve endings that send messages to your brain to help you sense a taste. How much do you know about your taste buds? Test your knowledge and visit Dr. Pate to make sure the taste in your mouth is healthy.

1. What are the bumps on your tongue called?

a. Papillae
b. Ridges
c. Palate

2. What are the five main tastes?

a. Sugar, fruity, sour, spicy, creamy
b. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami
c. Dairy, bread, meat, dessert, beverage

3. How many taste buds are on your tongue?

a. 1,000
b. 5,000
c. 10,000

4. What causes a loss of taste?

a. Damaged taste buds
b. Stuffy nose
c. Both A and B

5. How often are taste buds replaced?

a. Every day
b. Every two weeks
c. Every two months

Answers and Explanations

1. A. The tiny bumps on your tongue are called papillae. They contain the majority of your taste buds. Your taste buds have sensitive hairs called microvilli that send messages to your brain to help detect a taste.

2. B. Sweet taste buds are responsible for sensations like sugar, honey, candy, and cherries. Salty helps you taste salt, popcorn, and crackers. Sour taste buds help you experience lemons, limes, oranges, and melons. Bitter taste buds contribute to coffee, beer, citrus peels, and olives. Umami is described as a “savory” taste and is responsible for cheese, soy sauce, meat, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

3. C. Your tongue has about 10,000 taste buds, or 90 percent of them. The remaining 10 percent of your buds are located inside your cheeks and along the roof of your mouth.

4. C. Your taste buds can be damaged by extreme heat or cold, smoking, spicy foods, infection, dry mouth, old age, and other oral conditions. You also have olfactory sensors in your nose that help you smell and send messages to your brain to deliver the true flavor of food. When you’re congested, your olfactory sensors are blocked and you can’t properly smell the food, resulting in a bland or dulled taste.

5. B. Your taste buds are healed and replaced every two weeks so you can keep your taste strong.

If you notice a frequent unpleasant taste in your mouth, visit Dr. Pate to rule out any serious oral conditions, infections, or bad breath. Contact Dentistry in Buckhead at (404) 266-9424 to request an appointment.  We welcome patients from Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Vinings, Brookhaven, Atlanta, and the neighboring areas.